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A Call To Serve - Norway Oslo Mission Song (1971)


Noway Oslo Mission Song, 1971, "A Call To Serve"

As told by Eldste Rodney Foster, composer and lyricist of the song:

"I was baptized my senior year of high school and left for my mission after my freshmen year at BYU. One of my best friends at the Y was from Ashton, Idaho and he was really hoping for a cold climate for his mission. I, on the other hand, having lived all over the world as an Air Force brat, really wanted something warm. Imagine our astonishment when he received a call to Tahiti and I received mine to Norway!

When I arrived in the mission field in November of 1970, I was thrilled to be living in Europe once again -- this time as a member! I was assigned to Elder Ron Gridseth in Oslo and one of my first and fondest memories was singing on the torv in Oslo and Drammen in a missionary double quartet -- we passed out quite a few Books of Mormon and obtained a number of excellent referrals.

Not too long after that experience, I was lying awake in bed thinking about a number of music classes had taken at BYU and wanting to write something to describe the missionary experience I was having in Norway. Suddenly, both the lyrics and melody came to my mind for what would later be known as the Norway Mission Song, "A Call to Serve." I quietly turned on the light and jotted down the entire song, title, verses and chorus -- and then quietly drifted off to sleep. The next day at Church, I sat down at the piano after services and penned the melody and chord sequence.

Excitedly, I taught it to our district at our next meeting and both the elders and sisters were more than happy to help us "debut" the song at our next mission conference. President and Sister Johnson were moved and I was asked to teach it to the entire mission at that and subsequent conferences.

When I returned to teach at the LTM (forerunner of the MTC) in Idaho, the song was recorded and played on the campus carillion bells -- I made sure it played for the Norwegian Elders and Sisters on their last day before leaving for Norway. I was privileged to hear the song arranged and recorded several times over the years by different groups of missionaries.

Imagine my delight and surprise when I returned to the mission field some 16 years later for the Stockholm Sweden Temple Dedication (I was working for the Temple Department at that time) and learned "A Call to Serve" was still being sung!

I have no idea if the song continues yet today, but I know that it remains a wonderful memory of personal inspiration and a source of humble gratitude every time I reflect on the words "and Thy work go ever forward in Norway."

-- Rodney Foster

Copy courtesy of Sister Annelisa Ryan.
Please click link to download a copy of "A Call To Serve."

Please click on link for an updated copy of the song with Eldste Foster's story included in Adobe PDF.
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